The Great Skills Race

Innovations in U.S. Education and Training from a Global Perspective

Echoes of the “skills gap” debate can be heard in every advanced economy today. Schools are struggling to keep up with a rapidly changing labor market, students are stressed as the cost of higher education grows, and employers are frustrated with graduates who seem to lack the right mix of academic and practical skills. Over the past decade, the OECD’s Directorate for Education and Skills has been examining vocational education and training systems around the world and helping governments update their policies. In late 2014, the Directorate published a report synthesizing their findings from more than twenty country reviews, including the United States.

Meanwhile, here at home, concerns that our higher education system is failing to keep up with the demands of a fast-paced labor market have generated a host of new initiatives dedicated to strengthening the link between education and economic opportunity. The Lumina Foundation, which has long been engaged in efforts to increase degree completion rates, recently expanded its focus to include a strategy for building better credentials that can facilitate transitions into and through the labor market. In response to the alarming rise of long-term unemployment and persistent skills gaps, the Federal Reserve System has launched several workforce development initiatives aimed at fostering stronger collaboration between employers, institutions of higher education, and government agencies around regional economic growth strategies. Opportunity@Work, a new social enterprise, aims to “re-wire” the demand side of the labor market by helping employers make collective training investments that will deepen their talent pool while building more on-ramps to good jobs for the many people who seek them.

Please join us for a lively discussion among leaders from each of these organizations about what it takes to develop and sustain the skills needed to reap the rewards of today’s technology-driven global economy. What can the United States learn from how other countries? When it comes to aligning learning and jobs, what works and what doesn’t? We will be discussing these questions and more. We look forward to your participation.  

Follow the discussion online using #SkillsRace and following @NewAmericaEd.


Byron Auguste 
Managing Director, Opportunity@Work

Simon Field
Project Leader, Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD

Todd Greene 
Vice President, Federal Reserve System of Atlanta

Mary Alice McCarthy
Senior Policy Analyst, New America

Holly Zanville
Strategy Director, Lumina Foundation